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Nitrate is a naturally occurring compound that is part of the nitrogen cycle, as well as an approved food additive. It plays an important role in the nutrition and function of plants. Nitrate is an important component of vegetables due to its potential for accumulation; this can be affected by a number of biotic and abiotic factors. Higher levels of nitrate tend to be found in leaves, whereas lower levels occur in seeds or tubers. Thus, leaf crops such as lettuce and spinach generally have higher nitrate concentrations. Human exposure to nitrate is mainly exogenous through the consumption of vegetables, and to a lesser extent water and other foods.

Regulatory Information

EU legislation

Contaminants Framework Regulation: Regulation No. 315/93/EEC, as amended

Contaminants Legislation setting MLs: Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (NO LONGER IN FORCE), as amended

Sampling & Analysis Regulation: Regulation (EC) No. 1882/2006

Increased Control Measures: For potentially applicable emergency measures and temporary increased controls, please see our section on Import controls.

National legislation

S.I. No. 218 of 2010 as amended (S.I. No. 276 of 2012, S.I. No. 348 of 2012S.I. No. 380 of 2013S.I. No. 143 of 2014, S.I. No. 329 of 2016, S.I. No. 377 of 2017)